Diablo is the third prong in BlizzardÂs trident and this year (hopefully) will see the release of the third game in the franchise. As is their fashion, Blizzard has been doing press tours and the embargo from that event has just lifted, offering a plethora of new info and content. But why should World of Warcraft players care about Sanctuary?
Diablo III was announced back in 2008 at the Worldwide Invitational held in Paris, France. After teasing Blizzard fans for a week, they revealed the cinematic trailer and launched a countdown to the third title in the series. That countdown is now coming to itÂs conclusion as Blizzard hope to ship the game by the end of the year and have promised the beta will go live within the next two months.
So what do we know? Well Sanctuary is a world on a knife-edge, the focal point of attention from the Burning Hells and the High Heavens. ItÂs also plagued by the Prime Evils: the brothers Mephisto, Baal and the titular Diablo. It was originally created as a world where demons and angels could co-exist and even have children, which led to the creation of the human-like race known as the Nephalem. The Worldstone was created to hide the planet from infernal and divine eyes but when the planet was discovered, it became a battleground. Over many generations, the powers of the Nephalem have been leeched away, leaving them much more like the humans we know and love but that doesnÂt mean theyÂre powerless. Far from it.
Previous games in the series saw the player hunting down Diablo and his brothers. Now the game moves forward almost twenty years to a new age. The Worldstone was destroyed and The Dark Wanderer (the hero who we played in the original game and who absorbed DiabloÂs essence into himself) has been retconned by Blizzard. HeÂs now the eldest son of King Leoric, better known as the Skeleton King.
So what is going to make WoW players give the Diablo III beta a go? Well, for starters, the mythos of Sanctuary is just as encompassing as that of Azeroth. There are quests and evils to defeat, hard choices to be made and a choice of roles to play which, for Diablo III, means a choice of Wizards, Monks, Demons Hunters, Barbarians and Witch Doctors, most of which also include a choice of genders. Each has their own collection of spells or skills unique to that class. Seeing any similarities yet?
By making the game familiar, by including spells - like Blizzard - and classes that WoW players are going to recognise, they are instantly making the game interesting and familiar to folks whoÂve stuck to one of their other franchises. Jay Wilson, Diablo IIIÂs Lead Designer, told me so himself back in 2008 hours after the gameÂs official announcement.
When Diablo III was announced, IÂd only vaguely heard of the franchise but from the moment I saw the cinematic and the B roll footage, I was hooked. Why? Well StarCraft attracts people because itÂs sci fi but you either like RTSÂ or you donÂt. I donÂt but I still take a professional interest in the game. Unlike SCII, Diablo mixes GodÂs eye view fantasy with a storyline I can really get my teeth into. Angels, demons and magic Â whatÂs not to love? Plus Tyrael is really, really cool; heÂs my favourite WoW companion as well.
Yet Diablo III is going further. The press tour has also announced some surprising additions, including an auction house where you can pay real money - yes, actual dollars, pounds and Euros - to buy in-game items. ThereÂs a Diabloesque Hearthstone too called the Stone of Recall and loads of other stuff including customised banners and a bank vault which allows access to any character you might be playing, rather than just one.
With the beta coming sometime before September 30th, this is the time for WoW players to get up to speed. Check out the first two Diablo games if youÂve never played them, watch the cinematic and gameplay footage. Make sure youÂve checked your beta options on Battle.net and included Diablo III too and then itÂs just a matter of waiting till it goes live. Blizzard actually has an earnings call on Wednesday so if theyÂre going to talk about Diablo, thereÂs a good chance they might reveal the beta start date. Cross youÂre fingers and let us know what you think of the prospect of a beta or the Diablo series in general in the comments box below.